Speaking at the UN on October 11, Sudanese Christian leaders, including two Catholic bishops, urged the international community to prepare now for the humanitarian emergencies that may take early next year.

“People in the south see the [January] referendum as their opportunity to choose freedom,” the Church leaders note. “Cancellation or postponement of the referendum, or a perception that the referendum outcome does not match the will of the people, will not be understood by the people and will create a dangerous vacuum which could be filled by violence and even a return to war. The international community must be ready for a disputed referendum result.”

“The safety and human rights (including the right to freedom of religion) of southerners living in northern Sudan are in jeopardy before, during and after the referendum,” the Christian leaders add. “Threats and intimidation are already taking place and there is a climate of fear … The international community and the UN must be prepared logistically and financially to deal with the humanitarian consequences of large scale migration, particularly in the case of forced migration.”

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